Race Report for the Bernard Driver Trophy 2018
It was an overcast, blustery day as we gathered at South Bank Sailing Club for the illustrious Bernard Driver Trophy Race. Surprisingly, there was not a large field of competitors for this event, not withstanding the prize on offer. Ben and Elaine, in Ben’s glorious but strangely named Albacore, Jamie in his lightning fast Maclaren Laser, the redoubtable Henry Cook, Sara in her Solo, Henry Koe the young pretender and the ever-reliable Renato. Could anyone deny Renato one of his crowns?
As is tradition at SBSC, the boats took to the water slightly late, and prepared for a 4 lap race over a ‘sausage’ course, with a beat up to the Crabtree and a run down to a buoy just passed the start line. The wind was good, gusty but not overly strong, and we were all set, although Henry Koe was a little handicapped by his tiller extension not being long enough for him to hike out, the poor little mite.
All made a good start, Henry Koe in particular tacking off early to gain a lead, although he was quickly overhauled in his 4.7 sail. Ben and Elaine then went to the front, but Jamie was really flying and soon was ahead. It was great to watch the battle for the lead from the safety boat as Jamie fought off the Albacore as it dwarfed him in his Laser, like a pleasure boat about to be crushed by a huge battleship.
Our sailors were not alone on the Thames either. During their second lap, they were joined by Gloriana, the Queen’s barge, in all her majesty. Ceremonial rowers took her up and down Fulham Reach as the race progressed, and she made some of us remember the pageantry in 2012 (more about Gloriana here: https://www.glorianaqrb.org.uk/faqs/). Hordes of paddle boarders joined the sailors too, adding to the obstacles on the course.
Lap 2 of the Race saw Renato take the lead, after Jamie took a surprising and perhaps refreshing dip. We thought at this point normal service would resume, perhaps with the Albacore giving our determined Spaniard pause for thought. Jamie was having none of this though. No sooner was his Laser the right way up, he had it powering through the water, quickly and greedily eating into Renato’s lead. Sara had slipped under the radar as well and was gliding gracefully and speedily as ever into contention. Henry Cooke was looking an outside bet for a while until he capsized on the downwind leg, to all of our surprises. The Albacore made purposeful progress, powering past paddleboarders, rowers and sailors, expertly helmed by Ben in the low autumn sun.
There seemed to be no stopping Jamie though. Generating tremendous boat speed, Jamie flew downwind and took Renato before the final beat up to the Crabtree. Could he hold his hard-won lead against our wily, experienced and technically faultless Iberian friend? It seemed he would, as Renato was struggling to keep his boat flat as the wind built up. However, as soon as we began to feel that only disaster would rob Jamie of his triumph, sure enough so it arrived. Perhaps hurried by the champion’s presence on his tail, Jamie was caught by a header and was stranded in irons!
The crowd sighed at the inevitable sight of Renato powering ahead. Victory was his, once again and poor old Jamie was denied the runner’s up spot he deserved by the Albacore, which Ben and Elaine had snuck into second.
It was great fun in the safety boat with Leo and the race officers (Emma Koe and Lottie Case) did a marvellous job. Another great day on the Thames.